PopeWatch: Notre Dame

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Pope Francis had some interesting words for the Trustees of the University of Notre Dame:

Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness  of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of  her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching  as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope  that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony  to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of  efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this  is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it,  to preserve it and to advance it!

Go here to read the rest.  This is the same week   This is the same week that Gary Gutting a Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame, and someone in the past I have written about here, has an opinion piece in The New York Times calling on Pope Francis to reconsider the opposition of the Church to abortion:

There is, then, a strong case for thinking that abortions always bring about some bad results — at a minimum the loss of potential human life — and that for most pregnancies abortion would be morally wrong. But this conclusion is limited in two ways: A woman’s right to control her reproductive life can, as in the case of rape, offset even a person’s right to life; and at least at the earlier stages of pregnancy, the embryo has only the moral standing of potential, not actual, human life, which may be overridden by harm to humans with full moral standing.

These limitations, I suggest, correspond to the “very difficult situations” (such as “rape” and “extreme poverty”) in which the pope, in “Evangelii Gaudium,” admitted the church has “done little to adequately accompany women.” Allowing for exceptions to the moral condemnation of abortion in some of these painful situations would not contradict the pope’s overall commitment to the “value of the human person.” Rather, it would admit what reason shows: There are morally difficult issues about abortion that should be decided by conscience, not legislation. The result would be a church acting according to the pope’s own stated standard: preaching not “certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options” but rather the gospel of love.

Could we have a show of hands from those who believe that Professor Gutting will suffer any consequences from the powers that be at Notre Dame over this article?


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  1. Great start Pope Francis. Follow through is completely another story however this tone was long overdue.

    Catholic Identity indeed!

  2. Gregory Baum and his band of Canadian rebels, who derided Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, would be pleased with their contemporary counterpart Gary Gutting’s advocacy of abortion; for this subset of “Catholics” abortion is the natural and holistic progression of Baum’s efforts to normalize contraception.
    When contraception fails, abortion is their solution. The popes must be enlightened and made to submit to progress

  3. “There is, then, a strong case for thinking that abortions always bring about some bad results — at a minimum the loss of potential human life — and that for most pregnancies abortion would be morally wrong.”
    Science has proved that human life of an individual person begins at fertilization. “Potential human life” is actually a human life with potential. The endowed human soul is rational, innocent and virgin, capable of willing to live. The will to live of the human person, newly begotten, is the states’ right to life. Since man is born into ignorance, it may be that the sovereign person, begotten, has forgotten more than you or I can know. Even when we retain our free will and intellect, intuition and freedom, intangibles, that cannot be aborted, we can and may have forfeited most of our endowed gifts and talents. Gutting is a prime example of my theory.
    Firstly: The innocent person, begotten, may not be put to death for the crimes of his parents, rapist, murderer or whatever.
    Secondly: The innocence, legal and moral, of the newly begotten is the standard of Justice for the nation and the people. This is the compelling interest of the state.
    Thirdly, The sovereign person endowed with sovereign personhood by our Creator at fertilization, and the conception of the immaculate soul, until undone by concupiscence, constitutes the nation, of We, the people. This is the absolute compelling interest of the state in protecting and providing for the sovereign person in the womb.
    Gutting’s fine example of atheism, undeterred by Catholicism, the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church, science, tradition and common decency makes Gutting a prime candidate for expulsion.

  4. he had better not.. he does have the right to express his opinions. if he does suffer any consequences, it will make me even MORE ashamed to be catholic

  5. He has a right to be in support of legalized abortion and be employed at a Catholic university? What an odd conception of rights you have Ed. Does the position of the Church in defense of innocent human life also make you ashamed?

  6. “…being ashamed to be catholic.”

    This is the line in the sand. Catholic identity. Supporting views contrary to our Catholic identity is what is Shameful.
    It’s time to chose. Catholic in name only weakens the institution, the Church!
    Catholic in deed truth and witness is what will usher in a New Springtime.
    A time of grace for all souls, especially ones teaching contrary to Our Holy Faith.

  7. It appears to me that the professor is engaging in the sin of scandal.

    II. Respect for the Dignity of Persons

    Respect for the souls of others: scandal

    2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. the person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

    2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.86

    2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.


  8. I followed you link back to your previous writing about this professor and “we don’t need no stinkin’ bishops”. Thanks so much for this blog and your consistent Catholic work. You bless us all and you help us stay in touch with right thinking people who reinforce our faith- especially when there are so many who, (in teaching positions at Catholic universities) would lead Catholics astray.

  9. “he does have the right to express his opinions.” Not as fact, unless he prefaces his opinion as opinion and says that he truly does not know. Then, in fact, Gutting is wasting the precious time of his students.

  10. Ed, he does have a right to express his opinion. Once it is expressed this becomes an act that can be judged. If this act is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church, we have an obligation to refute it in kind – publicly or privately. If this act is by a teacher at a “catholic” university, then it is an incredible scandal and the height of hypocrisy.

    You are protecting the freedom to speak and express opinions. That is fine. Once opinions are expressed, we have to do our part to respond in a manner that reveals Truth. Being “ashamed” to be catholic and allowing scandalous statements to go unanswered is not acceptable. It is a refusal to recognize the Truth and to protect our Lord and Savior. If we do not recognize God here, He will not recognize us at our particular judgment. Lets join together and “fight the good fight.”

  11. Paul W Primavera.

    Going way out on a limb here….

    For starters a bronze bust of Fr. R. Weslin stationed in a prominent area on campus. The inscription; As a reminder to all who tread this sacred holy ground.
    Be not afraid.

    May 15th 2009 our humble defender of the unborn was hauled off to jail in hand cuffs. Guilty of praying for the unborn on Notre Dame property, opposing Obama’s presence and baloney honorary degree.

    The bust of this true Catholic priest should be a lasting testimony of Catholic Identity on Catholic Universities around the globe. Fr. Weslin passed away near my workplace in Northern Michigan.

  12. In the interest of transparency I am not a graduate of Notre Dame University. Notre Dame University is the keystone to Catholic HIgher Education. As it goes, so does most if not all of Catholic higher education. In 1967, Father Hesburgh, head of Notre Dame led a conference of heads of major Catholic Universities and Colleges in America at what is known as “The Land of Lakes Conference”. Its purpose was to draw up a policy in which the “Catholic universities and colleges” expressed a new relationship between themselves and the Church and between the Catholic universities and the intellectual life. In masse, led by Notre Dame, the universities sided with entering into a full robust search for intellectual excellence along with “academic freedom’ and other values their secular counterparts held most dear. The cost? Catholic identity and faithfulness not only to Church teaching but to their own mission within the Church.

    While other Catholic Universities and colleges have embraced this outright-Georgetown being the crown jewel of that crowd, Notre Dame has wavered back and forth (I know some will claim it has not wavered, but it has not gone the route of Georgetown). The Obama administration knew exactly what it was doing when they targeted Notre Dame for a major address in which Obama spouted political niceties about recognizing Catholics do not agree with abortion etc.-that turned into outright lies. In the meantime Notre Dame, desiring the prestige etc burned its incense to Caesar. Nonetheless it did not hide crucifixes etc at the expressed direction of the Obama administration as did Georgetown. Notre Dame is wavering, sitting on the fence.

    It joined with so many others in suing the government over the HHS mandate, but when it lost its case (certainly not its fault) it declared it would comply with the mandate-again wavering back and forth. However, this time there are enough Catholic alumnae etc that are pushing back etc. One of their projects was the setting up of a Rome campus of the University. It was to these folks that the pope addressed his very well-aimed comments, using the fine classical (ancient) art of rhetoric [although a bad word for many, it actually is a form of communication urging a certain direction, a change of direction etc. It was the language of the Church Fathers, a venerable tradition indeed). To put it in perhaps less diplomatic terms, what Pope Francis has done has set off a ticking time bomb-calling up the Catholic troops of the alumnae and board members calling for an end of the wavering and to once and for all side with Catholic identity and mission.

    In the meantime, the ripple effect of this happening at Notre Dame will effect the other Catholic universities and colleges. It is very likely the undoing of the 1967 Land of Lakes Conference. Finally.

  13. Botolph.”“Finally.” Thank you for your synopsis. I hope your (sic) right.””
    I second the motion. It may take some time like a volcano or avalanche. I never realized what an ignorant man Hesburgh was. Thank you Botolph

  14. Mary De Voe,

    You are very welcome. One thing however I should note is that there very well could be some prominent “Catholic universities or colleges” that will resist this call back (call to repentance) to Catholic identity and mission. They will become totally secularized and literally be “Catholic” in name only-by long association of the name with “Catholic” or even keeping a saints name etc. However they really will be secular and not Catholic.

    This is a time of grace for the Church-opportunity to respond to the call of Christ to holiness and in this way to be the ‘sacrament’ of Christ, the Light for the Nations. However, the time of pruning is literally ‘upon us’ and there will be a great deal of pruning indeed.

  15. Two conferences that were bruises on history Lambeth and Land of Lakes. Maybe there will be an equal and opposite pair of conferences sometime that will help bring us back to our senses.

  16. Anzlyne,

    You are correct about both conferences-Lambeth and Land of Lakes. But just a clarification for those who might not be as familiar with them: Lambeth was the conference of the Anglican Communion in 1930 [they take place every ten years] It was not a Catholic conference. In that meeting however, the ANglican Communion broke with the received Apostolic Moral Tradition, allowing birth control in certain circumstances. That was the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. A whirlwind developed within all of Christianity.

    In direct response to the Lambeth Conference, Pope Pius XI wrote his encyclical December 31, 1930 Casti Connubii [literally: Chaste Wedlock] which condemned eugenics (a major issue in the West at the time specially in America with such American names as Rockefeller, Ford, and Sanger etc behind it]. It condemned abortion. However its teaching on the sanctity and meaning of marriage is what it primarily takes on: holy matrimony is a sacrament which is equal to virginal and unmarried. It condemned adultery and divorce and called for husbands to love their wives as Christ love His Bride the Church.

    Prior to Casti Connubii it was thought by Catholics that the only real purpose of marriage was to have children. this certainly remains central yet Pope Pius XI added the unitive dimension-love. Here was development of doctrine. Up until this point marriage was seen primarily for the procreation of children. Now it has a two-fold nature and mission: it is both creative and unitive, life giving and love giving. [As you can see Humanae Vitae in 1968 simply repeated this teaching. It was ‘the world and Catholics’ who wanted to reduce marriage to the unitive (opening the gates to any and all forms of unions between consenting adults)

    The Land of Lakes Conference, was a major meeting of heads of Catholic Universities and colleges. It has not been completely tackled, but the speech of Pope Francis to Notre Dame shows the direction he is going in and desires for Catholic universities and colleges.

    Frankly, what I see emerging is a new form of the Code of Canon Law. The Code of 1983 was good but has already been ‘tweeked’ and still needs to be worked on. A real reform of the Canons will bring a clear discipline back into the Church. However, we will see what develops over the next few years.

  17. Botolph: “Prior to Casti Connubii it was thought by Catholics that the only real purpose of marriage was to have children.” It still is. Children bring the unitive dimension to matrimony that is the Sacrament of Matrimony. Children, the prospect of children and the intent for children bring the unitive dimension into matrimony.

  18. Mary De Voe,

    You are correct, the procreative, creative, life-giving is fundamental to the meaning and practice of conjugal (marital) love. WHat Pope Pius XI brought forth from the Tradition that was not at that point fully understood was the unitive, love-giving aspect is just as fundamental. Since 1930, the Church has taught that marital love is both life-giving and love-giving. Humanae Vitae simply reaffirmed this teaching in 1968

    Today most of the world and sadly many Catholics want to separate the life-giving from the love-giving so that marriage is only about two consenting adults loving each other, changing the meaning of marriage. The Church cannot and will not change her teaching to conform to the world on this

  19. Botolph: Thank You for your kind response. Follow me closely. There is no unitive love without the prospect of children. As Isaiah says: “bring forth my sons and daughters from afar” These sons and daughters from afar are our constitutional posterity, as some have called our posterity “our future”. These children to be brought forward are innocent virgins created in perfect Love, our standard of Justice, without whom, all human consent, public and private has been annihilated. Human consent being imperfect to every degree, only the perfect love and innocence of the newly begotten satisfy the demands of consent. One hears oaths, not recommended, in fact, a crime against the innocent and totally unnecessary, for God’s will be done, oaths “on the lives of my children.” using the perfect innocence of children to proclaim the truth of any matter.
    In my own words, if one truly loves you he will desire more of you, and do all that is in his power to bring more of you “from afar”.
    Unitive love is a corollary of procreative love. As any corollary, unitive love cannot be separated from procreative love without destroying the fabric of marriage. “I love you, but only so far” does not make marriage, simply because the other spouse may mean “til death do us part”. Both spouses must mean the same to grow in love. Marriage must be what it is.

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